PHILADELPHIA (WBAY) – The U.S. Coast Guard commissioned a new ship in Philadelphia on Friday named after former Green Bay Packers player Emlen Tunnell.
While serving in the Coast Guard in 1944, Tunnell suffered burns saving a sailor after a Japanese torpedo struck their ship in Papau, New Guinea. Then, in 1946, he jumped into the icy water to rescue another sailor who had fallen from the USS Tampa in Newfoundland.
“This is an opportunity to celebrate and merge these two stories of a Coast Guard hero who received the Silver Medal for the Rescue of two Coast Guard men,” said the Admiral of the Coast Guard. Coast Guard Karl Schultz.
âHe wanted to do whatever he could for as long as he could,â said his goddaughter, Mialee Anderson. âIf you go through his history, you see that he has made a lot of firsts. And in doing so, he set a precedent for others to follow.
After his military service, Tunnell joined the NFL, playing for the New York Giants and the Packers. He won a championship with the Packers in 1961. He returned to the Giants as the NFL’s first full-time black assistant coach and was the first black player to be inducted into the Professional Football Hall of Fame. Tunnell died in 1975 at the age of 50.
“Here’s a guy who doesn’t intend to be a pioneer or break glass ceilings,” Admiral Schultz added. “He was just a great human being who wanted to make a difference in the world.”
Tunnell’s jersey number with the New York Giants was 45, and this is the 45th quick-response cutter used by the US Coast Guard. It is the first military vessel to bear the name of a professional athlete.
The 154-foot Sentinel class Emlen Tunnell will join three other Sentinel-class ships in the Persian Gulf and its home port in Bahrain.
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